A 33-year-old Wisconsin woman who’s facing charges for enrolling in high school as her 15-year-old daughter is no stranger to authorities in Cass County.

A 33-year-old Wisconsin woman who’s facing charges for enrolling in high school as her 15-year-old daughter is no stranger to authorities in Cass County.


“My first thought was, ‘Why would you want to go through high school again?’ ” quipped John Dahlem, Cass County state’s attorney, who has put charges of unlawful use of a credit card and writing bad checks on hold until Wisconsin authorities are through with Wendy Anne Brown.


Brown made the cheerleading squad at Ashwaubenon High School near Green Bay and attended several practices as well as a party at the cheerleading coach’s house, according to the Green Bay Press Gazette. She told investigators she wanted to re-live her high school experience and get a diploma.


But she didn’t show much follow-through. Brown skipped school after the first day of classes, and truancy investigators discovered her true identity, according to Wisconsin media. Arrested Sept. 3 on suspicion of forgery and misdemeanor theft in an unrelated case, Brown now faces felony identity theft charges for the high school caper. She could be imprisoned for a dozen years.


If being a high school student is tough, Brown’s court history suggests she isn’t doing too well as an adult.


Her criminal record in Illinois dates back as far as 2002, when she was convicted of burglary in Douglas County and sent to prison. In 2004, she was returned to prison after being convicted of obstructing justice in Livingston County. She was married in June 2006, a year after being released, but was back in prison for a parole violation by summer’s end.


Her husband twice filed for divorce in Cass County, the first time just two months after the marriage. He filed for divorce again in December 2006, one month after asking that the first case be dismissed, saying his wife was pregnant, but he didn’t think he was the father. A month later, he asked that the case be dismissed.


“If I remember right, when I ran her, she had a long history of aliases and fraudulent identities,” said Mike Duvall, chief of the Westfield Police Department, who recalls arresting Brown in 2006 on a Department of Corrections warrant.


Neither Brown nor her husband caused Westfield police any trouble, Duvall said, although Brown once accused her spouse of physical abuse. There was no evidence, he recalled, and an order of protection was dismissed when she didn’t show up for court, but her husband did.


“She seemed a little, oh, high strung, I guess,” Duvall said. “But she never gave us any call to raise suspicions. Lived in a nice home. Nice family.”


The couple ended up in a home in Beardstown owned by Brown’s parents, who eventually sued their daughter and her husband, saying they didn’t pay rent for six months. Brown’s father declined comment for this story, saying a lawyer had advised him not to speak with reporters.


After Beardstown, the couple moved to Virginia, where a neighbor and Police Chief Tom Osmer recall frequent police calls to the couple’s home in response to arguments. Their former abode is a two-story, abandoned ramshackle with broken windows, wide-open front door, ripped-out flooring and garbage bags filled with clothing, old mail and other trash strewn about.


“They lived there long enough to get the lights turned on,” said neighbor Betty Alexander. “They fussed and fought. He broke all the windows out — knocked all the windows out when he got mad at her.”


In court papers filed last spring to establish indigency so that she could get a public defender, Brown said she had three kids and was pregnant.


“Three?” Alexander asked. “She didn’t have any that I ever saw. She was skinny.”


According to Wisconsin media, Brown’s 15-year-old daughter whose identity was used by her mother to enroll in high school is living with relatives in Nevada. In a 2006 court filing, Brown said she had three children ranging from 14 to four months old.


While kids were absent at the Virginia house, kittens were not. Alexander said Brown had nine cats, and she believed three had litters during the month or so she lived in the house before moving to an apartment across the street. Brown bounced two checks to the apartment landlord, according to pending criminal case in which she is accused of writing bad checks to three different entities.


Brown’s name is on the cash register at the Virginia IGA, along with others who have bounced checks. According to court files, Brown gave the store a bad check for $132 last March and another for $125 two days later. She also stands accused of giving the local Dairy Queen a bad check for $13, and prosecutors have tacked on an additional charge of unlawful use of a credit card. State’s attorney Dahlem says he believes the card belonged to a former boyfriend.


By July, Brown and her husband had vanished from Cass County, according to an entry in a lawsuit filed by a landlord who says she is owed $400 for rent and $200 for a deposit. Kevin Tippey, the landlord’s attorney, said he felt Brown’s husband was more responsible for the unpaid debt than Brown. She was laid back and timid, he recalled.


“I kind of felt bad for Wendy, to tell you the truth,” Tippey said. “She was soft-spoken. When she was there (in court), she was cooperative. Maybe that was just part of her con.”


Tippey professed shock at Brown’s latest predicament.


“She looked of an age that would have obviously precluded her from trying out for the high school cheerleading team,” he said.


Bruce Rushton can be reached at (217) 788-1542 or bruce.rushton@sj-r.com.